- Italy Tour: Craig Catanzariti
Italy Tour: Craig Catanzariti
Three years in a row and not a problem to be found, thanks for another great trip!
Once again, you and Umfulana have done a wonderful job; every stop went as planned, all the details ironed out in advance. Another great, worry free adventure!
I will say that driving the Amalfi Coast Road 2 years ago, despite all the the dire warnings, was a walk in the park compared to driving the mountain roads of Calabria and Sicily! The Autostrada is either a bridge or a tunnel in most places and the back roads, which we favor, climbed the mountain sides at incredible angles that required the lowest gear our rental car had. The mountains, very steep mountains, literally go right down to the sea. We were not prepared for the ruggedness of the terrain.
The people are fantastic. I have never met more welcoming and helpful people and the farther south we went the nicer they were. The food was great, the scenery was varied and interesting and each town unique.
A note of warning; this trip requires a lot of planning ahead as many of the things one would want to see are not always open or have very limited hours and the guide book for Calabria is yet to be written. Also, for some reason my GPS could not find the addresses (thanks for the great maps, a life saver!). I don’t know if it was operator error or southern Italy’s way of doing things. You might want to consider adding place coordinates as some of the French stops did.
Naples. The airport and the pick-up went smoothly. I highly recommend the car service the hotel booked for us in advance. He waited through a 1 hour flight delay and still greeted us with a smile and history lesson all the way to the hotel at no extra charge.
The hotel in Naples was very nice and the stay very pleasant. The staff was helpful and very knowledgeable. Get their recommendation for dinner; they know a wonderful spot on St Lucia. Naples has a reputation but we never felt threatened or had a hint of trouble and there was some security in a heavy, visible police presence.
Car pick-up was hassle free and again, the Taxi service booked through the hotel was a great service at a very reasonable price.
The stop in Giungano was very, very old world. Loved everything about it but it was hard to find dinner as they were not serving and not much else was open. We made due and had a wonderful picnic on their patio overlooking the valley that runs down to the sea.
Parghelia was too much of a resort for us but the area and the food were great. The staff was very service oriented and the restaurant very elegant, the price was steep but we were on vacation. I should mention that they are not amused if you drive to the reception desk on the walkway, wait for the porter’s shuttle.
Torre di Ruggero was a highlight. The food was excellent and the people nicer than the food. Possibly the single best piece of pork I’ve ever eaten! The weather did not cooperate but that’s life. I got to see the town where my Grandfather was raised, in the rain and wind, so mission accomplished.
Malazzo was great except for the garbage strike. A little too industrial going in but good once on the Cape. Again, the weather was too cold to use the beach. Lots of good places to eat downtown, and some interesting things to do.
Pettinoe was the stop of the trip. The food and people were wonderful. I wanted to see Italy as it was in my grandfather’s time; this must have been what it was like (but with better bath facilities!). Anyone who doesn’t stay in for dinner is missing a real treat. Sit down and be prepared for an excellent, long meal and even longer conversation with the hosts and other guests. They have olive trees over 600 years old, these trees were around before Columbus was a twinkle in his daddies’ eye. This stop is a memory we will talk about for years to come.
Agrigento was fascinating and the hotel wasn’t bad either. The ruins were amazing. Spend the extra 2 Euros and go through the garden while you’re there, very nice. At the hotel eat at their restaurant on top of the hill; the tour bus food in the hotel itself was reasonable but not as good as in standalone restaurant. The room was very well appointed and we had a super view of the ruin complex and the town on the hill beyond.
Castelmola was another outstanding stop. I can’t say enough good things about the staff. The room was a delight and the restaurant was worth a mention. The town is a neat place to explore, lots of places to dine and the people were very welcoming. This is a good base to see the area. A must see in Sicily.
Jerry, all in all another success for you, Umfulana and us. Thanks again,
Craig and Pat Catanzariti. Paris, IL, USA